Lawmakers in Pennsylvania have proposed legislation to establish an office that would work to attract and retain immigrants in the state. Pennsylvania has had trouble with slow growth in population, and this proposal is intended to attract immigrants and help them adjust to their new homes.
Pennsylvania is still a very large state being the 5th largest in the United States. However, it has suffered from growth which is slower than most of the rest of the country. In fact, the 2020 census indicated that Pennsylvania had grown by only 2.4% since 2010. This gives Pennsylvania a ranking of 44 out of the 50 states. Idaho, Utah, and Texas had the highest rate of growth during this period.
Because of this slow growth, Pennsylvania will likely lose a seat in Congress in the redistricting this year. This would cause Pennsylvania to go to 17 seats from the current 18 seats in the House of Representatives. Losing this seat would cause Pennsylvania to lose some political power as well as some federal funding since federal funding is typically based on population.
Immigrants are becoming an important part of Pennsylvania’s workforce. In fact, they make up about 9% of Pennsylvania’s workforce. Now, Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to attract and retain more immigrants in an effort to help Pennsylvania grow.
The new legislation proposes creating an Office of New Pennsylvanians. This office would have an advisory committee which would be made up of appointed private and public officials. These officials would advise the governor concerning legislation, policies, regulations, and procedures to help attract, retain, as well as integrate immigrants.
If this new office is formed, it will deal with immigration-related inquiries and issues as well as coordinate with state agencies in regard to policies related to immigration. It will also work with municipal officials, business leaders, and higher education facilities so as to attract more immigrants to the state and retain those living in the state.
Rep. Hohenstein stated, “it is incumbent upon each of us to ensure that people who emigrate from their home country to Pennsylvania will find a new welcoming, supportive home here. Codifying the support we provide to immigrants would establish that we see our responsibility to our immigrant neighbors as a priority and would benefit all Pennsylvanians.”
This bill was first introduced in December. It is sponsored and co-sponsored by Democrats. However, in order to become law, it would need some support from Republicans as the Republicans hold a majority in the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania.
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